Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #5 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), #6 Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), and #7 Common Blue Violet (Viola Sororia)

Continuing my series on the Wildflowers of 2014...

I have a secret goal on the number of different wildflowers that I want to photograph this year, but so far the wildflower season has been slow to start.  On Monday (21 April 2014) I was able to add three more flowers to my list.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #5 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Looking at my photographs from the past five years, the start of the Spring wildflower season has varied by as much as three weeks.  One of the first wildflowers to bloom in Mid-Michigan is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Since 2009, I have photographed the first blooms of as early as April 4th (2012) and as late as April 29th (2013).

Bloodroot flower - note the bright yellow pollen-covered anthers surrounding the pale green pistil

Normally I find very few Bloodroot flowers.  I have a few locations in the local parks where I know I can find Bloodroot plants every year, but sometimes I miss the flowers completely.  Bloodroot only blooms for a few days each year.  Once a flower has been pollinated its petals begin to drop off.  If you do not time your visit to the woods perfectly, you may find that all of the flowers are gone.

This year, I timed my search for Bloodroot just right.  There were large numbers of the flowers in bloom at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant.  There were lots of solitary flowers and small clusters of plants.

There were also numerous larger groupings of eight to ten flowers.  This is not unusual - Bloodroot spreads both by seed and by underground rhizomes that result in colonies of genetically identical plants (clones). 

Many of the plants were attracting small pollinators, especially beetles and small bees.

Many beetles play a role in pollination - these are possibly Red-necked False Blister Beetles (Asclera ruficollis)

A metalic green Small Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp.) visits Bloodroot flowers - the flower on the left has been almost completely stripped of pollen.
Bloodroot was not the only flower in bloom.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #6 Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

The second wildflower in bloom was Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra Cucullaria).  This is one of my favorite wildflowers. There is a large colony of this plant and its close relative Squirrel Corn (D. canadensis) at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  The fern-like leaves of this plant can be found in large numbers along the top of an old river levee in the woods at the rear of the park.  Many of the plants had immature buds present.  However, during this trip I was able to find only one mature flower.  By this weekend, this entire colony should be in bloom.

A single flowering Dutchman's Breeches plant - a spike of immature flowers can be seen in the background

Wildflowers of 2014 - #7 Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Less than a week ago the riverbanks at Chipp-A-Waters Park looked like this...

Flooding along the Chippewa River on 16 April 2014
All of that floodwater deposited large amounts of sediment in the floodplain and along the riverbank.  Poking up through all of this sediment were several Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) plants.

Common Blue Violet coming up through sediment on the riverbank

Despite its name, Common Blue Violet can come in a range of colors from a deep violet color to a pale lavender or even white. In Mid-Michigan, Common Blue Violet blooms between late-March and June so not finding it blooming until the third week of April is a little unusual.

Now that the weather seems to be finally warming up enough to stimulate growth I expect to find larger numbers of species in bloom over then next two weeks.

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